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Stephen Tennant
(1906 — 1987)

Stephen Tennant was a British artist and poet. Born in Wiltshire in 1906, Tennant was born to an upper class family of rich cultural and political tradition. Famously deemed ‘the brightest’ of the Bright Young Things, a vibrant group of socialites and cultural figures both criticised and celebrated in the popular press during the 1920s, Tennant was enduringly described as an eccentric. His inimitable social persona proved to be the inspiration behind several characters in the fiction of his peers and this sparkling spirit was frequently captured by those around him in paintings, sculptures and photographs, most famously by Cecil Beaton. Tennant himself sought to convey his allusive essence in his poetry, volumes of which were frequently illustrated with designs by his own hand.


On his many travels, the artist produced studies of those around him, most often glamorous ladies and tattooed sailors in bars, though distinctive still life studies of flora and fauna were also a popular subject. Tennant was a true lover of beauty. His fascination with Greek ideals was evident in his depiction of gods and goddesses, which he often illustrated alongside more intriguing contemporary figures. In addition to the illustrations Tennant produced to accompany his own poetry, the artist also completed several studies for the great, but ultimately unfinished, project of his life, the novel Lascar. The artist died in 1987.